Juvenile rape claim delayed by gardai for three years
Gardai disciplined over delays in 8,000 child crime cases
A garda investigation into a complaint of rape against a juvenile was delayed for three years because of Garda inaction.
The rape complaint was the most serious of almost 8,000 crimes committed by children but which a report found were never properly investigated by gardai.
The report published last week found that 3,500 juvenile offenders - most of whom were known to gardai - should have been prosecuted for the crimes but were not.
New details about the rape complaint, obtained by the Sunday Independent, reveal how a young woman made the allegation against a juvenile more than four years ago.
The investigating gardai referred the case to the force's youth diversion programme because it involved a juvenile aged between 12 and 18. The boy was not accepted on to the programme and the case was referred back to the investigating gardai, who appear to have taken no further action.
The rape complaint came to the attention of senior officers only after a review of juvenile cases was begun. Local gardai reactivated the investigation last year and a file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions who ultimately did not press charges.
The garda who was assigned the case may now face disciplinary proceedings, with sanctions ranging from a fine, a caution or admonishment.
More than a quarter of the entire Garda force has been implicated in the failings identified in the report. Cases handled by around 3,400 gardai are now being examined by their local chief superintendents who will decide whether they should face disciplinary action. At least a dozen gardai have already been disciplined.
The rape was singled out in the Garda report as one of 55 more serious complaints against children that were never properly investigated. The vast majority of the 7,894 criminal offences related to less serious offences such as criminal damage, public order and theft.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris apologised to the children who offended, to the victims and to the public when he outlined the report's findings to the Policing Authority last Thursday. Letters of apology from An Garda Siochana were sent out this weekend to the 2,492 people and 988 businesses who were victims of crimes that were not investigated. A helpline set up for members of the public will remain open for two weeks.
The Policing Authority heard that the failure to investigate these crimes occurred over a seven-year period, mostly in busy Garda divisions. In many cases, gardai investigating crimes committed by juveniles forwarded cases to the force's juvenile diversion programme.
The programme aims to provide early intervention for the children, away from the criminal justice system. The failures occurred when the programme referred cases back to gardai because they were found to be unsuitable and were not followed up.
The helpline number is 1800-589 589 and will operate from Monday to Sunday, 7am-10pm.